Saturday evening saw Lionel Messi score his tenth goal of the Leagues Cup 2023 campaign, meaning he has found the net in all seven of his appearances in the tournament. For his final strike, he would break the deadlock in the final against Nashville SC, in a dramatic encounter that Inter Miami CF would end up winning on penalties.
In what was his 817th career goal, the Argentine maestro would put his team ahead in the final with an impressive strike. He picked up the ball on the edge of the area, controlled it, evaded a defender, and then unleashed a strike into Elliot Panicco’s top corner - the Nashville SC shot-stopper could only watch the ball fly past him.
It was the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner’s tenth of the competition, putting him further clear at the top of the scoring charts. Of those ten, half have come from outside the box.
Ten goals from the number ten
In the tournament’s curtain-raiser, Messi came on for his debut against Cruz Azul in the second half. He would score a dramatic stoppage-time free-kick to hand his team an opening-night win.
The second match-up, a 4-0 win over Atlanta United FC, saw Messi make his first start. The former Barcelona man would score within eight minutes, and added another in the 22nd minute. He was substituted on 78 minutes.
In the round of 32, he played his first full match for Inter Miami CF in a 3-1 win over Orlando City. He once again scored a brace, and played a key role in his team progressing to the next round of Leagues Cup 2023. Here are the goals:
The following fixture saw Messi open the scoring after just six minutes against FC Dallas. His late free-kick on 85 minutes sealed a dramatic comeback away from home to make it 4-4 in regulation time, before the visitors came out on top in the penalty shoot-out.
In the 4-0 thrashing of Charlotte FC in the quarter-finals, the number 10 would get on the scoresheet with the final goal in the 86th minute.
His sixth appearance, against the Philadelphia Union in the semi-finals, saw Messi score his ninth of the tournament. The Argentine would score the second in a 4-1 win.
Messi ended Saturday night’s final with the cup in his hands, and with his status as the top scorer of Leagues Cup 2023 beyond any doubt. La Pulga’s first impression on North American soccer will be hard to beat - he has scored in every game during the tournament.